Blogs & Comment

Winners & Losers: SpaceX achieves liftoff, Facebook flops at Davos

SpaceX orbital Internet means never being without Twitter again

▲ SpaceX

Nerds! In! Spaaaaaaace!

Photoillustration of a SpaceX capsule in orbit


Billionaire and future Martian Elon Musk just scored a $10 billion investment from Google and Fidelity Investments for SpaceX, his space transport company. The investment values SpaceX, founded in 2002, at roughly $10 billion. When the company’s rockets are not crashing to Earth in a fiery hellstorm, SpaceX wants to explore new, more absurd ways to connect people to the Internet. Musk recently mused about plans to send hundreds of tiny satellites into orbit to provide Internet access to remote parts of the world. Google, meanwhile, has already announced a project to send balloons into the stratosphere to provide Internet. It’s called Project Loon. With their mutual goal to blanket the planet with connectivity to ensure profit for themselves, a partnership between SpaceX and Google makes perfect sense. Google’s investment in SpaceX could also give it an edge over Facebook, which has its own plot to use drones, satellites, and—somewhat ominously—lasers to serve up Internet access absolutely everywhere. In space, no one can hear you scream—but we will be able to favourite your Instagram photos. There can be no escape from the Internet, people.

▼ Facebook

Economists dislike the like economy

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg


The social network recently hired accounting firm Deloitte to prove just how important it is. COO Sheryl Sandberg will formally present the results at Davos, an annual summit of self-importance, but the study itself is already out. It claims that Facebook was responsible for $227 billion in global economic impact in the year ended October 2014, and that it created 4.5 million jobs. The only problem is the results are meaningless. That’s actually what a Stanford economist called the study: “meaningless.” In calculating Facebook’s economic impact, Deloitte made some grandiose assumptions. For example, it claims that Facebook is responsible for 16% of global smartphone sales. The implication is that millions of people are buying smartphones for no other reason than to access Facebook, which is ridiculous, seeing how the reason people by smartphones is to access porn while riding the bus. Deloitte also applied an economic value to the Like button, going so far as to quantify the boost to sales and job creation that occur when you Like a business’s page. (If only Target Canada had known the power of Likes…) Facebook is eager to show that the tech industry isn’t just disrupting people out of jobs, but creating new ones outside of the industry. Whatever truth there is to that claim won’t be found in this report. There’s plenty of magical thinking, though.